Britain will be “just fine” after it leaves the European Union, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview broadcast on Friday (10 February).
“We are very optimistic about the UK’s future and we are all in,” the CEO of the US tech giant told ITV television after meeting Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday during a visit to Britain.
“We’re a big believer in the UK. The UK will be just fine,” Cook said after visiting a coding class at a London primary school.
But he told reporters on Thursday he expected “bumps in the road” on the path to Brexit.
Britain voted to leave the European Union in a referendum in June last year and UK MPs on Wednesday approved the government’s Brexit Bill. This gives May the authority to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin the process of taking the UK out of the EU, a process she had promised to deliver by the end of March.
Apple announced in September that it would create a London headquarters in the iconic and long-abandoned Battersea Power Station on the banks of the River Thames.
Around 1,400 staff from eight existing offices in London will relocate to the renovated landmark, whose distinctive chimneys have towered over the southern riverbank since the 1930s.
There will be enough space there for 3,000 staff.
Cook’s comments will reassure the British government. Chancellor Philip Hammond in January hinted that the UK would slash corporation tax in a bid to remain attractive to businesses after Brexit.
“We’re double-downing on a huge headquarters in the Battersea area… and we’re leaving significant space there to expand,” Cook said in the interview.
The former power station lay derelict since it stopped generating electricity in 1983, but is undergoing a £9 billion makeover to turn the 170,000 square metre space into offices, apartments, shops and leisure facilities.
The new “Apple complex” will take over 40% of the office space.
Facebook, Google, Apple and Snapchat have all announced major investments in London in the past few months, underlining the capital’s status as a technology hub.
The European Commission last year ordered Apple to pay up to €13 billion in back-taxes to Dublin, but the company and the Irish government itself have challenged the ruling.
Under its special Irish tax regime, Apple paid just 1% on its European profits in 2003. According to the EU executive, this rate fell to 0.005% in 2014.